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Ground Broke for Hundred Volunteer Fire Department

By Staff | Aug 12, 2015

Photo by Lauren Matthews Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-W.Va., and Chris Stadelman, communications director for Governor Tomblin’s office, break ground at the site of Hundred Volunteer Fire Department’s new building. Pethtel and Stadelman are surrounded by other community members and representatives who helped to make Hundred VFD’s dream of a new fire department building a reality.

Friday marked a new beginning for Hundred Volunteer Fire Department as they broke ground at the site for its new fire department building.

Johanna Lemasters, president of the fire department, thanked everybody “from one dollar on up” to their donations. She specifically thanked Robin Hayhurst, who, along with his brother, donated $18,000. Lemasters said Hayhurst donated $10,000 for the department to put in their fundraising account. Hayhurst then donated $8,000 for the purchase of property for a parking lot alongside the new department site.

Chris Stadelman, Communications Director for Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, said it was an honor to be at the groundbreaking ceremony for the fire department.

Stadelman complimented the partnership that is taking place for the new fire department, in regards to the local bank, local contractor, and local government all working collaboratively. Stadelman remarked this was “the way the governor likes to see projects done.”

Stadelman remarked that Tomblin is “frugal” and doesn’t like using his contingency fund; thus, it was impressive Tomblin was using $35,000 of the fund for toward Hundred’s project.

Delegate Dave Pethtel, D-W.Va., also said it was honor to be present at the groundbreaking. Pethtel said his involvement began when Lemasters came to Charleston during the last legislative session. Pethtel complimented Lemasters on the “great job,” she did when pleading her cause.

“This has really been a community effort,” Pethtel said, adding he certainly believes a modern and up-to-date fire department is a need in a community. “It’s not a want. We all know that without a fire department, what happens to fire insurance rates.”

Pethtel remarked that in the past eight to nine years, the area has heard a lot about the Marcellus Shale Industry.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he remarked but added that, “If it wasn’t for the Marcellus Shale Industry, this county commission wouldn’t have been able to give money to this project.”

Pethtel said he looked forward to coming back to see the building completed.

Lemasters said when she went to Charleston, it was enlightening to walk up and down the halls of the capital. She remarked how fellow delegates would talk to Pethtel and call him by name and would remark how Wetzel County has good representation.

Wetzel County Commission President Bob Gorby said it was a good feeling for the commission to have the funds to donate $150,000 toward the cause. Gorby also credited the drilling, saying if it wasn’t for the Marcellus Shale, the commission would not have been able to give to the project.

Commission Vice President Larry Lemon remarked that it was “a real joy to do this.”

Lemon thanked the fire fighters as well, “for all this is being done.”

“I don’t think people can thank fire fighters enough for what you do for us in a time of need. You have a dangerous job, unselfish for coming out at 3 o’clock in the morning, six inches of snow. If we didn’t have you . . . I shudder to think what our course of action would be. This is the very least, I think, we can do for all of you, for what you do for us. Thank you.”

Commissioner Don Mason said the commission is “very fortunate as a commission, with Marcellus drilling and severance tax, we are able now to fund projects. As money comes in, we want to spend it for the benefit of citizens.”

Credit was also given to First Exchange Bank, through whom Hundred VFD is financing its project. Lemasters said she went to First Exchange Bank representatives “with smiles and tears.”

Sue Frame, who has held several benefits for the fire department, thanked everyone who has helped with the project. Frame said Lemasters’ letter to the Wetzel Chronicle caught her attention and prompted her to take action. Frame said the fire department raises approximately $1,000 a month with dinners.

“It all wouldn’t be possible without everyone,” she said.

“If we hadn’t have done this, our building would’ve collapsed within the next year, which would’ve strained us financially to the point we wouldn’t have had a fire department. It would’ve crushed our equipment,” Bert Anderson, chief for the Hundred VFD, said.

Lemasters said last winter, whenever it rained or snowed, she would lay awake, worried, that the roof would collapse on the department. Lemasters said at Christmas time, she had a lot of decisions to make, she said most of the bids to work on the building were going to be $700,000 to $800,000, one being $850,000. “We knew we couldn’t pay that,” she said, crediting Anthony Fluharty, also present, for offering a bid the fire department could afford. She said Fluharty, “is easy to get along with.”

Lemasters said she appreciates everything her fire fighters do, saying “they are my family.”